November 19th, 2009
06:03 PM ET
13 years ago

McDonnell won’t disavow Robertson’s Islam remarks

CEDAR CREEK, Texas (CNN) - Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell on Wednesday would not disavow Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson’s recent claim that Islam is not a religion, but “a violent political system.”

McDonnell, though, stressed that he reached out to Muslims and visited mosques in Virginia throughout the governor’s race and will continue to do so when he takes office in January.

Muslim groups have called on McDonnell to condemn the remark because Robertson is a longtime political benefactor of the Republican, who won a blowout victory in this year’s closely-watched gubernatorial election.

McDonnell attended law school at CBN University (now Regent University), founded by Robertson, and has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the televangelist along with appearing on his show, “The 700 Club.”

“I’ve got probably 15,000 donors to the campaign and I can’t stand and defend or support every comment that any donor might make,” McDonnell said in response to a question from CNN at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting near Austin. “I think people are entitled under the First Amendment to express whatever opinions that they may have, but I can only say that as governor of Virginia, I intend to have an inclusive administration where we bring people across the political and religious system to help us govern.”

Robertson made the comments on his show on November 9 after the shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. The suspected gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, is a Muslim who was critical of U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan

“Islam is a violent, I was going to say religion, but it's not a religion. It's a political system,” Robertson said. “It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination. That is the ultimate aim.”

When asked if he believes Islam is “a violent political system,” McDonnell said no, but he did not condemn Robertson.

“I think that there are people in various religions that do some violent things and they should be judged according to their acts,” he explained. “But I have believed that there are people of all the great religions, that can be enormously helpful in our multicultural Virginia to help them to benefit us in the state.”

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Extra • Pat Robertson
soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Michael Chefalo

    Virginia –

    Buyer beware!

    This is the type of attitude that enrages people and creates the atmosphere enabling radicals to get traction in communities. Evidently, the hatred from the Holy Wars of centuries ago is still kept alive in the name of religion...

    November 19, 2009 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    ENOUGH with the Political Correctness! It has just cost us 13 lives. The TRUTH is that Islam is NOT a is a Cult just like Naziism. There. I'm not "PC", but I'm not afraid to verbalize the truth.

    November 19, 2009 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  3. Lisa

    Maybe Mr. McDonnell should refresh his memory on the history of the organized Christian church (see Spanish Inquisition, Venetian Inquisiton, Salem Witch Trials, etc.) and he'll see that the same definition could be applied to Christianity.

    November 19, 2009 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    McDonnell did as best as he could with moving farther from Robertson's statement. McDonnell has to keep Robertson and his group happy so that he doesn't lose their support. If he angered them, he could find much of his support gone despite their shared agenda.

    November 19, 2009 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  5. Mike

    No surprise. McDonnell and Robertson are both racists. Why should they try to cover it up?

    November 19, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. George W Bush = Worst President Ever

    McDonnell won't disavow his own writings, why would anyone expect him to disavow divisiveness and hate?

    November 19, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. KJ

    Yet, the same people hled then Sen. Obama to different standard regarding Rev. Wright (I am not condoning Rev. Wright's actions). Robertson has insulted Americans who are of the Muslim faith. There are fantics and extremists in every relegion. Some of these fantics have taken violent actions in their beliefs. It is not isolated to Muslims.

    November 19, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  8. muslims deserve it

    and will continue to deserve it until they can police themselves

    November 19, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  9. Tracy

    VA took a major step back in electing this man ... so not a surprise when he chooses not to denounce the statements made by someone who also has no clue.

    November 19, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Obama = WORST president EVER

    I guess if it's good enough for Obama and Rev. Wright....

    November 19, 2009 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. George W Bush = Worst President Ever

    A lot of people are being reminded of what republican leadership really means.

    November 19, 2009 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  12. newbit

    To some extent, I think politicians should be able to distance themselves from those who donate to their campaign (even their religious leaders) without explicitly condemning them. I can't help but think, though, that if Pat Robertson were Jeremiah Wright, this would be an entirely different story.

    November 19, 2009 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  13. the dude

    Having a Thm Degree myself...I've got to tell you...Pat Robertson's political and theological opinions are essentially meaningless. Islam is not a religion? Not only wrong, but absurb. It appears Mr. McDonnell is too busy worshiping at the church of the almighty dollar–hence he won't make waves with Mr. Robertson.

    November 19, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  14. Soporifix

    Asking a politician to "condemn" the remarks of a major contributor, no matter how stupid or bigoted those remarks might be, is like asking a pig to bite the farmer who's feeding it slop.

    November 19, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  15. maurice estevez

    Unfortunately the Rev. Robertson is one of those people that cater and pander to those hateful, violent and intolerant fringe of socitey. It's also unfortunate that Gov elelct Mc Donnell wouldn't say this and refuse futher funding from these types of groups.

    November 19, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. MissyW

    Islam is as much a religion as any other. And in its true form is based on purity and love like any other. However, like any other, it can be taken and twisted to a point of barely being recognizable by some of its "followers" who then commit atrocities in the name of religion. This has been done for centuries by every religion in varying degrees.
    Its nothing new.

    November 19, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. Mark G OH

    Well, if Governor-elect McDonnell and Mr. Robertson feel so strongly that Islam is not an actual religion but "a violent political system", then the Christian right led by Mr. Robertson should be considered America's Al-qaeda since it is just as dangerous to the fabric of society, and just as heavy involved in the political system albeit as non-profits.

    November 19, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  18. Ed Tallahassee

    Robertson was over the line, and McDonnell has no control over what his contributors say, but I think that McDonnell should have at least tried a little hard to distance himself from the comments.

    November 19, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. Eleanor

    Everyone knows Robertson is a crack-pot who can't help but make outrageous and ill-informed remarks every so often. But McDonnel's very apparent duplicity evidences a not unexpected quantity of hypocrisy in the GOP soul.

    Suck up the Muslim community when you think you need their help in your political fight, and then sit on your hands when they are condemned in some ill-informed global generalization? Isn't it just so typical of the Repugnants? We have seen this movie before!

    November 19, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  20. Matt in DC

    One again, it proves that Virginians will regret their decision of having elected this fundamentalist to office. It's dissapointing that minorities and young people (those who have the most to lose with his win) did not show up at the voting booths. VA will be back in the stone age in no time with McDonnell as gov (the true American Taliban), and Robertson will be pulling the strings. Watch how Robertson causes get priority and all the sweet deals. Besides, Robertson calling another religion a "violent political system"?? What do you think your version of Christinaity is Mr Robertson? Not exactly peace and love. Both are wrong and Americans should reject and change both systems.

    November 19, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. Frozone

    Wow a bigoted Republican. What next? A cold day in Alaska?

    November 19, 2009 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. Rick Charles

    I don't care what the liberal media thinks. We are already in a crusade against the muslins. The Vir gov is just giving actions to what we already know. Fundamentalists unite ! against democrats and the rest of the world. I am disappointed that Sara didn't agree w Pat as well.

    November 19, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  23. jim

    Another half-truth title for the ticker....

    Yes McDonnell didn't disavow Robertson's remarks, but he did say the remarks are not consistent with how he plans to run Virginia's government. Until McDonnell *acts* differently, this is a tempest in a teapot.

    If politicians where responsible for every statement made by crackpot their donors, then *all* politicians would be disqualified for public office. I don't think this is McDonnell's problem, just as I don't think Rev. Wright is Obama's problem.


    November 19, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Jason

    A conservative wignut for a govenor – congrats Virginia!
    Don't worry, be happy, he can't be as bad as a Pat Robertson – oops!
    Spoke too soon

    November 19, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. Gordon Shumway

    It should be fairly obvious though, that followers of Islam tend to be more violent and less diplomatic in their political differences with peaceful societies. Ignorance breeds discontent and discontent breeds violence.

    November 19, 2009 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
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